Monday, August 16, 2010

I Forgot

I´ve been ranting lately, but it's not what I had meant to do.  What I had meant to do, what I had wanted to do until I got all cranky, was talk about some great moments in Argentine winter.  These moments would include a couple of Sundays ago, also known as Swiss Day Where You Eat Your Weight In Cheese.  I don't quite understand it, because it's not their independence day (they were never occupied), so I guess it's like Swiss Self-Appreciation Day.  No wars, yay!  They do it by eating cheese.  I am so there.  At a Swiss friend's house, 3 and a half kilos of raclette and I don't know how many bottles of white wine were gobbled up and drank down.  You broil the cheese and then eat it with boiled potatoes and cornichons and pickled onions.  Then you wash it down with white wine.  Then you repeat.   Then you wake up Monday morning maybe not that ready to go to work, but hey, these things happen, and though it was probably not the original intention (the Swiss are, after all, in the middle of their summer), this kind of eating and drinking is exactly what is needed to get through the winter.

The bar at the British Embassy is called La Mano de Dios.  God I love Argentina.

And someone stopped me on the way home from work in Once, in Once, to hand me a 2 peso note that had fallen out of my pocket.  Once is an incredibly hectic and not at all safe neighborhood, which is a commercial district during the day and serves as one of the major transit exits from the city.  Once is packed during rush hour, and it´s an especially good time to get your wallet/purse/laptop stolen.

And then I got on a bus and somehow couldn't find the change I knew I had put in my pocket.  I looked and looked and looked and was going a little crazy when a guy came up from the back, Do you need change? How much are you missing? A stranger offered me monedas (coins, a surprisingly and frustratingly scarce commodity in Buenos Aires).  I was on too much of a roll for it to last.

The other thing I forget about are the cookies I made last week.  I love cardamom and I adore chocolate and man I might never make normal chocolate chip cookies again.  My dad has never tried these, but I'm going to go ahead and predict that these would be favorites of his as well.  He typically eats chocolate chip cookies about 6 at a time, carrying them with him downstairs from the kitchen to work on the computer. On the other hand, I don´t think I´ve ever seen him prolong the lifespan of any food as long as a cardamom halvah brought back by one his Indian students.  That thing lasted forever, not because he didn´t like it but because he carved away with it, sliver by sliver, trying to make it last as long as possible.  Chocolate and cardamom is not something I would have thought of naturally, but my goodness does it work.  Instead of changing chocolate-chip cookies into something familiar with a strange aftertaste, to me it makes them even more like themselves, or how I always wanted them to be without realizing it.       

Chocolate Chip Cardamom Cookies
     adapted from eggbeater
4 1/2 oz. (1 stick + 1 Tbsp. or 128 g.) butter, room temperature
1/2 c. (3.5 oz. or 100 g.) sugar 
2/3 c. (5.5 oz. or 156 g.) dark brown sugar, packed
2 med. eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. (9 oz. or 255 g.) all-purpose flour (000)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
4 oz. (113 g.) dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom (Freshly ground is better.  Lacking alternatives, I used a big knife to pulverize the seeds.  It was kind of a pain.  Perhaps you have a kitchen with a mortar and pestle, or even a spice grinder, you lucky person.  These are better options.)

Preheat oven to 350º.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or don´t and accept that the chocolate might burn on the bottom of the cookies).  Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well in between each addition.  Add in vanilla, beat well, add in cardamom.  Holding a sifter over the bowl, sift the flour, baking soda and salt directly into the bowl.  Stir to combine, fold in the chocolate. 
Refrigerate dough, covered in plastic, for up to 2 days, or use immediately (or bake some now and some tomorrow). Using a 1 Tbsp. measure, portion out cookies on baking sheet, leaving 2 in. between cookies to spread.  Bake for 10 min., rotating the sheet after 5 min. so they bake evenly, until the cookies are golden but not burnt please. 

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